Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'll Miss You, David Stace, and I'm Not the Only One


Dave with his wife and daughters, May 2012
Today a good friend and co-worker, David Stace, was laid to rest. Here’s a newspaper article discussing what happened that led to his death: Local Teacher Dies after Fall

I believe the reason David Stace touched the lives of so many people is because so many felt they had a special relationship with Dave. It is an accurate assessment, because Dave took the time to make and to maintain that special connection with those he came into contact with, whether daily or whenever paths crossed. A smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a "How're you doing?" or "How was your day?", a joke or bit of humor.

Dave Teaching Math
And when Dave made eye contact, and/or asked that question, you knew it was genuine. You knew he was listening. It showed in his eyes and in his smile and laugh, or look of concern and pat on the back. At work it was always, “Terrific Tuesday” or “Wonderful Wednesday.”

Consider all this to the backdrop of the curve balls life threw Dave's way. Just one of them was the fact that he suffered from seizures. Sometimes it frustrated Dave as it caused a lot of inconveniences such as inhibiting his ability to drive that led to dependence on others. Another was the concern that he might have a seizure while teaching. His students were always understanding of Mr. Stace’s concern, and I think the way he handled it and approached them about his health concern at the beginning of each school year left a positive impression on them. And, on rare occasion, he did suffer a seizure while teaching.

For a few summers I worked with Dave for his landscaping business (Stace’s Landscaping), where I mostly helped him lay paver bricks for patios, driveways and walkways. In truth, I really hate landscaping, but I really enjoyed the time I spent with Dave. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve dug out sod and dirt while singing Veggie Tales tunes (to the CDs). You know, they’re pretty fast-paced, so maybe it made us dig faster. It certainly made us laugh and the time sure went faster.

Truck Dave gave me. It sits on the
shelf above my computer with a
few other nick-nack gifts from
familyand friends
One of the things Dave enjoyed teasing me about was the fact that I was really inept at backing his truck up with his trailer attached—often filled with gravel. It’d take me three or four tries to get it backed up a driveway or lined up next to the proper pile in the gravel pit so the trailer could be filled. He promised me someday, for working with him, he’d get me a truck. Well, he did at the end of one summer’s work (see picture). When I was backing his truck and trailer up he often remind me with a smile, “You know, Tammy can do this. It doesn’t take her more than one try.” I recall telling him on more than one occasion, “That’s another good reason you married her instead of me.” And we'd laugh...and I'd pull forward and then try again.

And speaking of his wife Tammy, he told me many times he was so blessed and lucky that Tammy married him. He couldn’t imagine what she saw in him, but he felt so fortunate that she was in his life. That, and he was so happy to have each of his three daughters, and so proud of them. God truly, blessed him with a wonderful family (and they with a terrific and caring Dad and Husband).

It is beyond doubt that Dave was a special person who will be missed, while also being remembered by his wife, daughters, family and friends. He wasn't a perfect man—no man or woman can be, but he knew and was 100% on target in his priorities. He cared about and promoted Faith, Family and Friendship.

So, you’re wondering what might have been one of Dave’s flaws? It was his gift of gab, sometimes causing him to be late, or have to be fetched from somewhere in the school so he could get his ride home from work. But you know, he was really busy making, renewing or reinforcing that connection with someone, doing God’s work. I better know that now.

Another thing he teased me about most recently was my election to the St. Paris village council. On mornings when I was doing my wandering hall duty this past school year, I’d stop by and see him doing his morning duty, watching and checking off the buses from the various schools as they arrived and dropped students off. In addition to greeting so many of the students with a smile and a high five, he’d nod and say, “Councilman Ervin” and we’d chat for a moment or two. I’ll miss that.

Anyway, on occasion Dave would have a class or two that wasn’t particularly motivated. With that in mind, one thing we were planning to do this year was complete a song, rewording the Veggie Tales’ tune, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  See, Dave and I often discussed teaching, and what goes on in the classroom, and how we could be more effective and help students succeed. It’s what teachers do—our way of talking shop. Yes, teachers complain a bit too, but our true passion and goal is to do our job better.

If you listen to the clip below, you get the words that begin the song. More than an few times I sang to him, to the melody with the following lyrics: “We are Stace’s students who don’t do anything. We just sit in class and goof around. And if he asks us to do anything…we just tell him, ‘We don’t do anything...’”

That’s as far as it went, but we laughed together and said we’d have to finish up the song next year (which would’ve been this coming school year). If you listen to the song, you can see where it could easily be made to fit a math classroom of low-motivated students. It would’ve been fun.

With that, I’ll close this blog post because, while I am deeply saddened at losing Dave, I rejoice in his reward, the Gift of Eternal Life, granted through the Grace of God. And I look forward to the day I'll once again hear him ask me, "Hey, Terry, how was your day?"

Dave and Frank at UVCC June Jammer 2012

Dave with Bob and Pam at Bob Evans

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This post could’ve gone on for a long time where I discussed events and memories with Dave. I’ll just include a list, which you may understand—but probably not, but when I click back on this post, it’ll be enough that I’ll remember. If anyone who knew Dave is ever interested, just ask me and I’ll flesh out the memory you might be curious about.

> The New Holland that had become a trellis.
> Able to only lift one eyebrow
> Rainbow won’t shed much
> Backyard swamp and manual backhoe
> Brain probe extensions required
> Replacing bulb in sanctuary requiring fully extended ladder
> 4-Weeder, Tunnels, …Mmmm? , and “Jake, don’t take my brownie.”
> Kodak (Kojak) and MINE!
> The Great Divorce and A Tale of Two Sons
> June Jammer water balloon shot
> Gutters, Bushes and Bees
> Digging hard clay for two hours and duct tape fingers
> Completing patio under halogen lights before Russia trip due to redo (me and neighbor)
Upper Valley JVS Academic Faculty, 2007


  1. It's so hard to say goodbye. I know what you're going through. A dear friend of mine took her own life last month. There aren't words for that kind of heartache. God bless!

    1. Angie, very soory to learn about your friend. It is hard to say goodbye, even when it's simply goodbye for now.

  2. Stace was a phenomenal man. I've never seen someone so relentlessly positive. We'll all miss that Pi Day goofball.

    1. Relentlessly positive--an excellent description, Stephen.

    2. I would Take Dave home when Bob couldnt do it I will miss all his corn ball jokes andfunny antics. I would set up part of my Lab so he could do Bunjie jumping Barbie with his students. It was a hoot watch those kid figure out the math equation and get interaction between them and Dave I will miss you
      Frank Segreti

    3. Frank,
      I'd forgotten about the Bunji Barbie. I know that Dave really enjoyed working with the kids in your lab, with the landscaping and all, and he thought what you do to prepare them for careers is on spot and important. I understand what you mean about the rides home with Dave. Fun times and fun memories.

      Thanks for taking a minute to post here.